社説:安保転換を問う 参院委採決へ 国民の納得には程遠い

September 17, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Public understanding of security bills far from sufficient
社説:安保転換を問う 参院委採決へ 国民の納得には程遠い

Deliberations in the House of Councillors over a set of government backed security-related bills remain tense. The ruling coalition parties are prepared to complete a questioning session in the Special Committee on Legislation for the Peace and Security of Japan and the International Community, where the bills are being discussed, and put the bills to a vote.

Ahead of a planned vote, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its coalition partner Komeito reached an agreement with three opposition parties -- the Assembly to Energize Japan, the Party for Future Generations and the New Renaissance Party -- on the details of a supplementary resolution. A meeting of leaders of the five parties was also held with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in attendance.

The ruling parties are saying that the environment for voting on the legislation has been prepared. But the nature of the bills remains unchanged, and we are far from able to say that the public is convinced.

After the special committee held a regional public hearing in Yokohama on Sept. 16, ruling and opposition parties wrangled into the night over whether a final questioning session would be held. If the ruling coalition forces a vote on the legislation, the opposition parties are prepared to resist with countermeasures, including submitting a no-confidence resolution against the Abe Cabinet.

Under the agreement reached between the five political parties, when the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) are dispatched overseas, a supplementary resolution and Cabinet decision would be incorporated to bolster Diet involvement in the process.

When dispatching SDF members to the Persian Gulf, for example, and exercising the right to collective self-defense in situations not linked directly to an armed attack on Japan, advance approval would be sought from the Diet without exception, and the activities of dispatched SDF members would be reported to the Diet every 180 days.

The three opposition parties that reached the agreement with the ruling coalition are small parties with just 14 upper house seats. But the fact that they informally decided to support the security bills under this agreement, means the ruling parties can avoid passing the bills by their own weight alone -- a welcome development for the coalition.

The question over how the Diet can control the SDF is an important point of discussion. But supplementary resolutions, with no written amendments to the law, are not binding. And the "appropriate response" forming the backdrop to Cabinet decisions is vague. In cases not involving a direct armed attack on Japan, it is only natural for the Diet to give advance approval. It is difficult to say that checks will be thoroughly implemented through the agreement between the ruling coalition and three opposition parties.

Furthermore, the agreement does nothing to fundamentally amend the legislation, which has been criticized by many constitutional scholars as being unconstitutional. Surely what's really happening is that the ruling coalition is putting up a camouflage to avoid being criticized for voting on the bills on its own steam. The stance of the three opposition parties in settling on a loose agreement is questionable.

Aside from the agreement between the five parties, discussions between the ruling coalition and the Japan Innovation Party on amending the legislation fell apart. Just like with deliberations in the House of Representatives, which ended unsatisfactorily, we cannot conclude that the ruling parties are showing any great desire to search seriously for common ground. The ruling parties should really have seriously considered such options as leaving out the questionable parts of the bills.

Day after day, people opposed to the security bills have staged rallies around the National Diet Building, and protests have spread across Japan.

The reason that the ruling parties are fixated upon passing the legislation into law on Sept. 18 is surely because they are worried about protests expanding over the weekend or during the subsequent "Silver Week" national holidays. If they really fear public opinion then forcing a vote on the bills is something they should avoid.

毎日新聞 2015年09月17日 東京朝刊

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